Every year we make the trip to the winter NAMM show in Anaheim to meet with our friends from JJ Electronic, see some of our customers and check out all that is new! The question everyone asks is "How was the NAMM show?" The short answer is great! It is the ultimate candy store for musicians and the 2009 show did not disappoint! There we new amps from a lot of major players including Mesa, 65 Amps, Fender, Peavey, Egnater and VOX to name a few.The usual lineup of star players performed and did signings including Satch, Yngwie, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Nick Catanese, George Lynch, Billy Gibbons and the list really goes on forever. Billy G showed up in the Fender room at the Gretch display and did an impromptu performance playing and singing several ZZ Top tunes (picture below is a little blurry...) Joey D who is the God of the B3 played at the Motion sound booth and Steve Vai talked with everyone and signed autographs as did many others. At any one time there were at least a half a dozen artists playing and several signings going on.We always take time to hook up a very dear and long time friend Casey Young. I first met and played with Casey clear back in 1976 where we tore up all the local clubs in Portland Oregon. Shortly after we hired a beautiful young gal to front the band and a year later I married her. Carla and I still play and record together. Casey moved to LA where he played with Gary Wright, toured throughout Europe with Vangelis and with YES. He now works for Lexicon and does studio work with every major studio in LA including Capital, Sony and DreamWorks. He has worked with just about every producer on the planet. The pics below are from the NAMM show in the Lexicon room. My wife Carla always manages to meet interesting people and this year was no exception, I took her picture with Elviss...On to the amps! In my opinion the star of the show was 65 Amps new "Lil Elvis". It's a simple single channel amp with a boost called "Bump" and a master volume. The 65 Amps are some of the finest sounding amps on the planet and the Lil Elvis is no exception. You can kick up the master a bit and get a crunchy rhythm, pot down and the amp goes to a sparkling clean, then pot up and switch in the Bump to get a surprising dose of sweet gain. Very versatile and it sounds simply stunning! The pic below shows the main end of the 65 Amps sound booth and on the right is the Lil Elvis.The new Egnater Rebel 20 was the best sounding amp from the new line of EGG amps which includes the not yet released 30 watt combo called the Rebel 30C and the 50 watt Renegade 50 which comes in a head and a 4X10 combo which should come with two roadies to move it! It dwarfs a Super Reverb! All pictured below.For you players that have not auditioned the Rebel 20 it's a nice offering allowing the blending of 6V6's with EL84's. I've been a big fan of blending power tubes for a long time as most of you know from seeing the info on what we call Integrated quads. The Rebel 20 when dialed over to the all 6V6 mode is soft and sweet with a lot of warmth, when dialed over to all EL84's it's very punchy and in your face so a blend of the two is pretty cool. The amp has a surprising amount gain so for the price and sound it's a best buy.Speaking of small amps Bob Burris maker of Burris amps and all around nice guy, was ahead of the curve back in 2007 where I first heard the Royal Bluesman which is a hand wired 18 watter with an EZ81 tube rectifier, tremolo, verb and master. It's a cool vibe and a great Blues amp in a very small package! Bob also makes a patented speaker cab that converts from open to closed back in seconds and it employs a quick change speaker mount system allowing you to swap speakers in less than five minuets! http://www.burrissamps.com/RoyalBluesman.htmMesa introduced the new Electra-Dyne Simulclass 45/90 which is a simple straight forward amp with a Brit voice aimed at the classic rock player, nice but nothing real special. The new Mark V is a offering a lot of dedicated Mark players have been waiting for. It does the Mark I and the Mark IIC+ thing along with having the Mark IV features and you can set the channels for 10 watts, 45 watts or 90 watts. The front panel is a different type of layout but very user friendly with four clusters enclosing the three channels and the EQ section. The thing I noticed that I liked was that the fuzz factor was down on this amp when it was driven hard in the second and third channels. The Mark I mode in the second channel is pretty true and the third channel in the Extreme mode is pretty extreme, with more gain than any Mark amp I've played.The Mark V is very different from the Dual Rec based amps like the Roadster and Roadking that in comparison have an overall more refined sound in most settings. The Mark V is a bit different and can be a little nasty in the Edge setting in the second channel, kinda like the kid from the wrong side of the tracks that you like but you don't know why? It can get very smooth in the third channel and comparing it directly to a Roadster it sounded a little more harmonically complex. I'm looking forward to playing around with tubes on this one! I think most all Mark enthusiasts will be pleased. Peavey has an all new line of hand wired amps with a very nice upscale look. I met and spoke with the design engineer Tim Jauernig for quite a while, a very nice and knowledgeable guy! I started off with a flurry of technical questions about the amps which he gladly answered. I apologized for all the grilling and he said "no problem, I know who you are, I've been to your website many times". My cover was blown... Tim proceeded to demo the amps and I was quite surprised by the heavy midrange voicing, don't get me wrong, the amps have plenty of low end punch but the mids are screaming MARSHALL! The build quality is very nice as you can see by the chassis shot of the Sensation 20 below which is cathode biased running a pair of JJ EL84's for power. The masterpiece 50 runs a pair of 6L6's for power and you would swear that the amp is using EL34's because of the crunchy mids it's capable of. There is also a new 1.5 watter called the Studio Special using a 12AU7 for power so if it's an ultra low wattage amp you need check it out. The biggest surprise was the JSX 50 head running a pair of 6550's for power! Satch has been wanting a bit of Marshall mixed in lately and Tim has been working with him to achieve just that. The amp pictured bellow is a prototype and is in the tweaking stage but it definitely has that Marshall roar going on and the drive tone is a departure from the well known JSX and XXX amps, as is the case with the other new hand wired series of amps. Nice job Tim!The other new offering from Peavey is the 3120. According to the salesman I spoke with who was not real knowledgeable, this is what he told me. "The 3120 is the new amp that is the JSX that comes with JJ EL34's and we built it in case Satch goes with Marshall". I listened to the amp and it sounded a little of the pace of the current JSX so I went back to ask Tim about it and he said it was the XXX with EL34's voiced a little differently. Either way I was less impressed after listening to the other Peavey amps. Below is a pic.It seems to have turned into the battle of the mini amps lately and Orange has a new child called the Dual Terror with the same Tiny Terror channel and an added Fat channel which is, in fact fatter sounding and the fat channel makes a nice rhythm channel or is even nice for Blues.VOX has also entered this arena with the new 15 watt lunch pail Night Train amp. It sounds pretty good and I liked it better than the AC15CC when played next to each other. It seemed to have more chime in the highs and did not have the flat sound that I don't care for in the CC series amps.The newly named Fryette amps which are the old VHT amps demoed the SigX next to the Deliverance amps and the SigX clearly has a warmer tone with a better dynamic response. It also sounded more organic than any other VHT that I have heard and played, so I think it's their best yet!Fender had two new amps that are actually the same exact amp in a combo version called the "Deluxe Vintage modified" and a head version called the "Bandmaster Vintage Modified". Both use a pair of 6L6's for power, a 12AX7 driver and one single 12AX7 input tube. The clean from these amps is actually pretty good as one would expect from Fender. The built in verb and FX are not bad but neither amp really sounds like it's namesake. There were of course hundreds more like Bugera, Diamond, Bolt and the new Black Heart 100 watter (I inserted a close up of the Black Heart controls in the pic below). I think the least favorite was the Bolt followed by the Diamond amps. Just really harsh and in your face. maybe the "Death to all living things" metal guys will like them.The biggest amp I've ever seen and FELT was at the Ampeg booth. So you Bass players take note, ya got nothin... The amp I'm talking about is the Super SVT. It stands over twelve feet tall and the cab is loaded with thirty six ten's. You read correctly, that is 36 10" speaks! The amp head houses two SVT Classic amps for over 600 watts of tube power. When a low E was played and you were anywhere within 100' of this thing all the hairs on your body stood up and it would tickle you! Here are a few shots. Yes it goes clear to the floor!